Cultivating Change: Putting Food First in Nova Scotia

Cultivating Change: Putting Food First in Nova Scotia


PHASE 1: 2016-2017

Overview & Purpose

Cultivating Change: Putting Food First in Nova Scotia was an exploratory project that focused on facilitating and strengthening cross-departmental collaborations, to create sustained action and lasting change on food insecurity in Nova Scotia. This project grew out of the Activating Change Together for Community Food Security (ACT for CFS) project, that identified the opportunity to address challenges experienced by small-scale enterprises to supply large institutions with local, healthy, and sustainable food as well the barriers within publicly funded institutions to source said food.


With the help of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the J.W. McConnell Foundation and the Knowledge Sharing Support Award from the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, a collaborative team hosted two events that:

  • enabled cross-departmental dialogue and learning about improving access to healthy food in Nova Scotia’s publicly funded institutions, and
  • increasing the ability of producers to meet this need through the right procurement policies and practices.

The organizing team consisted of FoodARC, the Ecology Action Centre, the Nova Scotia Departments of Health and Wellness and Agriculture, the Nova Scotia Health Authority, New Leaf Social Innovation and others. These events were held at Mount Saint Vincent University and connected over 70 stakeholders from various sectors across Nova Scotia.

1. Photo - Joshna Maharaj, Chef and Activist “Building Self­ Reliance”

A talk with Joshna Maharaj, Chef and Activist
March 2, 2016

Renowned chef and activist, Joshna Maharaj, was invited to share her learning and advice in shifting purchasing in local institutions towards healthy, local, and sustainable food. Her presentation was followed by an interactive workshop to help stakeholders examine their own institutions.

View the event details, photos and watch the video of the morning portion, including Joshna Maharaj’s presentation and local stories. »


Graphic - Presentation and discussion summary by Brave Space at the Building Self­ Reliance workshop
The workshop was graphically recorded by Brave Space. This image summarizes the presentation and discussion from the day.


Poster - Pathways to Healthy, Local and Sustainable Food in our Institutions: An Interactive Workshop2. “Pathways to Healthy, Local and Sustainable Food in our Institutions”

An Interactive Workshop
January 11, 2017

This gathering was a follow-up to the first event and focused on procurement of local, healthy, and sustainable food by NS’ publicly funded institutions, also known as “farm to institution programs”. Stakeholders learned from each other’s strategies and challenges and to explore mechanisms for intersectoral collaboration and dialogue around the role of institutional procurement in helping to achieve community food security. The outcome of this gathering was a documentation of success stories, current strategies, and a list of next steps.

View the event details »

Report Cover - Pathways to Healthy, Local and Sustainable Food in our Institutions: Harvest Report 2017

Pathways to Healthy, Local and Sustainable Food in our Institutions: Harvest Report 2017

The Harvest Report is an important read for anyone facing challenges in ensuring their institutional procurement practices arecentred around sustainability and wellness for the community as a whole.

View the Report »
(PDF, 1.5 MB | 6 pages)


PHASE 2: 2017-2019

Growing Access to Good Food in Nova Scotia’s Publicly Funded Institutions

In collaboration with an Institutional Procurement Working Group, FoodARC was awarded a Social Change through Community Engaged Research Grant (Fall 2017 – Winter 2019) from MSVU to move forward on our work on procurement of local, fresh and healthy food in NS publicly funded institutions.This work grew out of the 2014 “Making Food Matter Report” and its recommendation to focus on getting more local food in Nova Scotia’s publicly funded institutions and fostering cross-departmental collaboration around food systems change. With previous funding support from the NSHRF, we have convened small and large gatherings aimed at growing this conversation and connecting stakeholders to learn from each other and identify opportunities to support change (check out NS Local Food Shift Facebook page). Producer capacity, distribution systems, processing infrastructure and collaboration & information sharing have arisen again and again as key issues.The goal of the current project is to accelerate the momentum that currently exists in NS for implementing food procurement policies and mechanisms that contributes to healthy and vibrant communities in Nova Scotia. Together members of a Working Group, comprised of various stakeholders from government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations have been leading this work.